Home Aquarium – The Live Art from Your Room

A home aquarium doesn’t have to be just a plain container filled with water for a few fish to endlessly swim in. Aquariums have a ton of potential for becoming truly amazing and extraordinary design features.

Office aquarium
Image from Jeannette Architects

It just takes a bit of creativity and thinking outside the box to make this happen. Here’s a few cool ideas:

The Two Main Types Of Home Aquariums

There’s one big distinction to be made when talking about aquariums and it has to do with the basic fish groups and the type of water which they prefer. Fish can be divided into large groups: freshwater and saltwater species and that goes the same for aquariums.

Freshwater Home Aquariums

Freshwater aquariums are the most popular ones because there’s a lot of species of fish that you can put in them.

This includes some really beautiful and colorful tropical fish, various cold water fish, all sorts of community-oriented fish that enjoy living in groups and even some aggressive fish if you like a bit of action.

Freshwater Home Aquariums
Image from Reddit.

These further distinctions between fish types also translates into more types of aquariums:

  • Community tanks – for fish that get along with each other
  • Semi-aggresive tanks – for solitary fish from various different species

The Best Fish Species For Freshwater Home Aquariums

beautiful aquarium
Image from Reddit.

According to Jason from BuildYourAquarium.com, if you’re looking to add some freshwater fish to your aquarium these are your best options:

  • Cory catfish – they spend their time at the bottom of the tank and they get along with pretty much everyone else. They’re also not very fussy about their living conditions and they’re fun to watch. Keep them in groups of at least 4 or 5 individuals because they’re schooling fish.
  • Guppies – easy to care for, small in size and available in all sorts of bright colors, these are a great option for beginner aquarium owners. You can keep them in small tanks and in groups, feeding them with flake food. Keep in mind they reproduce very quickly.
  • Mollies – they come in a wide range of colors and, just like Guppies, they reproduce super quickly. They’re a bit bigger than Guppies and they’re omnivorous. They’re also peaceful and not fussy about their living conditions.
  • Swordtails – the males in this species have a sword-like section protruding out of their tails which makes them stand out and look quite interesting. Swordtails in general are easy to care for and they thrive in a wide range of environments. They should be kept in groups and they’re peaceful.
  • Neon Tetras – If you want your aquarium to be full of life and little fish that move around super quickly and in a hurry consider getting some Neon Tetras. They’re small, brightly-colored, peaceful and easy to care for.
  • Britlenose Pleco – also known as Armored Catfish, this is a peaceful type of fish, fairly small in size (under 5’’) and with a great appetite for algae. It helps to keep aquariums clean by eating the algae but it still needs to be fed to stay healthy.
  • Betta – these are some of the most popular freshwater aquarium fish out there. Betta fish are famous for their bright colors and beautiful and delicate fins. They’re solitary fish and they’re aggressive but they do get along with a few other species like the Plecos, Cory Catfish and certain Tetras.
  • Zabra Danios – easy to care for, energetic and fun to watch and peaceful. Zebra fish should be kept in groups. They’re easy to recognize by their striped zabra-like patterns.
  • Goldfish – by far the most popular freshwater aquarium fish. They’re peaceful and easy to care for but they don’t get along with other fish. They prefer a cooler environment of at least 20-30 gallons and they actually come in lots of different varieties of color.
  • Tiger Barbs – they feature orange and black stripes and they live in groups of 5-6. They’re easy to care for and very entertaining to watch because they’re very lively. Although they’re quite peaceful they can turn slightly aggressive towards other species.

Saltwater Home Aquariums

Saltwater home aquarium
Image from reddit.

In this case the species or type of fish doesn’t play a big role in the design or structure of the aquarium itself. Moreover, saltwater aquariums can hold more than just fish or common plants. Here’s a few design options you have:

  • Aquariums with fish only – these only hold fish without any plant matter or rocks so it’s important to pay special attention to the pH, nitrogen and ammonia levels in the water. That meant frequent maintenance and establishing a proper nitrogen cycle.
  • Aquariums with fish and live rocks – live rocks are rocks with creature living inside as well as on the surface. These additional things help with filtration inside the aquarium which means less frequent maintenance from your part and more diversity in the design.
  • Coral reef tanks – these aquariums are more difficult to set up and require some prior experience. They can hold thinks like corals, anemonies and invertebrates as well as fish, although these are not really necessary. Reef aquariums are complicated and expensive to set up and they require daily maintenance.

Home Aquarium Maintenance

You might be thinking fish are the easiest pets to take care of because all you have to do is feed them every once in a while and watch them being all pretty and cute. According to Shirlie Sharpe from ThesprucePets.com there’s actually quite a bit of maintenance work, according to  that aquarium owners have to do.

Home Aquarium Maintenance

This includes things like regularly changing the water in the aquarium which is quite time-consuming, testing the water and making sure the filtering system works properly. There’s tasks that aquarium owners have to do daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly.

  • Daily maintenance – this include making sure that all the equipment is still working properly, feeding the fish and checking up on them to notice any changes in behavior or appearance that may indicate health issues.
  • Weekly and bi-weekly maintenance – this includes tasks such as counting the fish to check if any deaths have occurred, testing the water, cleaning the walls of the aquarium, clean the gravel on the bottom (if any), clean the filter and changing 10% to 15% of the water in the tank.
  • Monthly maintenance – includes tasks like replacing the filter inserts and other consumable parts, inspecting all the parts of the aquarium, cleaning the top and checking all the expiration dates on the supplies you normally use.

Here’s how some of the routine maintenance tasks are done:

1. Changing the water in the aquarium

This is something you should do every other week. If you change some of the water in the aquarium frequently there’s no need to change it all and to disturb the ecosystem at any point.

It’s a very important part of every aquarium owner’s maintenance routine. You can make this easy and efficient by using a siphon to extract 10-15% of the water while at the same time cleaning the gravel and getting rid of uneaten food, excrement and other waste material that accumulates on the bottom of the tank.

Make sure the water you then add to the tank has the right parameters. Tap water contains chlorine and chloramine and should be treated with water conditioner before being added to the aquarium. Alternatively you can use filtered water.

2. Testing the water in the aquarium

Regularly testing the water in the aquarium ensures that the environment you’ve created for the fish and everything else is balanced and healthy. This in turn helps keep the aquarium cleaner for longer periods of time.

3. Test the water every other week for vital parameters:

  • the pH should be stable somewhere between 6.5 and 7.5 for most species of fish. Be sure to adjust these numbers based on the type of fish living in your aquarium.
  • nitrates should be kept below 10 ppm in freshwater and 5 ppm or lower in saltwater
  • nitrites should always remain undetectable. If you detect nitrites in the water be sure to also check for ammonia because they’re linked.
  • carbonate hardness or KH represents the pH stability and shouldn’t drop below 4.5 dH (degree hardness) or 80 ppm. You can raise the kH by adding a half teaspoon of baking soda per 25 galons of water. This raises the kH by approximately 1 dH or 17.8 ppm.

4. Cleaning the filter

You should do this every month or more frequently depending on how densely populated the aquarium is. The filter attracts and traps dirt and should be cleaned occasionally. Simply rinsing it with water is enough.

Every once in a while the filter also needs to be replaced with a new one. When it gets too dirty or full, remove the old one and insert a new one in its place. Check and replace any other consumables at the same time.

Never use soap or chemical cleaners when cleaning the filter. Use clean, fresh water only and don’t scrub the inside of the filter because this destroys the beneficial bacteria needed to maintain a healthy aquarium environment.

Beautiful Home Aquarium Design Ideas

Freestanding focal point

Freestanding home aquariumfocal point

Want something pretty to look at while you’re cooking, doing housework or sitting down at the dinner table? Turn a freestanding home aquarium into a beautiful and peaceful focal point for the entire social area. It could sit anywhere, like where the kitchen and dining room intersect in an open floor plan for example. Check out The Fish Gallery for some cool design ideas.

Built into the wall

Built into the wall

Here’s another beautiful implementation of a large home aquarium in an open floor plan design. This time it’s a saltwater reef aquarium and it looks really great built into the wall and with the wooden facade framing it on the top and the bottom and hiding all the functional bits. Design from thefishgallery.

Part of the dining room furniture

Aquarium Part of the dining room furniture

This transitional dining room features a beautiful home aquarium in its design which is very seamlessly incorporated into the furniture. It looks natural, almost like a painting on a wall, adding color and life to the room. This is a space designed by Garrison Hullinger.

Corner aquarium in the office

Corner aquarium in the office

A home aquarium is a perfect addition to the office because it’s very peaceful and relaxing to look at but also quite entertaining. This design by The Fish Gallery features a vertical approach, turning the aquarium into a really cool corner feature. It’s a magnificent decoration for the room and it even adds ambient lighting to the area.

Man cave aquarium

Man cave aquarium

The really cool thing about aquariums is that they’re incredibly versatile and they can suit any type of space, in this case an office with a man cave-inspired look. The design by Joi Prater Interiors uses a gray-based palette with wooden floors and the aquarium makes such a lively and colorful addition to the space.

Other Cool Aquarium Concept Ideas

Kitchen island Aquarium

Kitchen island Aquarium

Kitchen islands usually include lots of storage but this one is different and you can probably tell why. Instead of shelves and drawers it has something completely different and unexpected: a massive aquarium. It’s also not just cool-looking but functional as well, featuring a countertop that can be lifted with the press of a button, revealing a hidden set of features and the fact that the aquarium is in fact L-shaped and fitted around a series of storage modules. This amazing island is designed by Robert Kolenik.

Staircase Aquarium

Staircase Aquarium

Spiral staircases are generally stylish by nature but some stand out more than others. The one designed by Diapo is definitely one of those. What puts it over the top is the fact that the central pillar around which it wraps is actually a giant aquarium. The staircase itself is made of metal and glass which allows it to mimic the aesthetic of the central aquarium. At the same time, the transparent railing allows a clear view of the aquarium from the exterior and it lets light travel through as well.


Office aquarium

You might be wondering how could a bird cage possibly also be an aquarium or the other way around. To find an answer to that question you need to look at the Mezzanine which was found on Tankarium, a very interesting prototype which combines these two elements. It’s an aquarium cage, a hybrid which brings together two completely different universes.

Room divider

Room divider home aquarium

Considering how unusual some of the other ideas mentioned so far are, this one seems to make a bit more sense and feels a bit more familiar. That’s because this is a room divider with a double-sided built-in aquarium. It was put together by Ocean Aquarium Design and it’s reminiscent of dividers with fireplaces built into them. It’s a cool way to separate a large open space into distinct zones without using solid walls. {

Kitchen aquarium

Office aquarium

There’s nothing really revolutionary or unusual about this particular aquarium except for the fact that it’s built into one of the kitchen’s wall units. Having an aquarium in the kitchen is quite unexpected and shows just how much one particular feature gets to influence the overall design and feel of a room. It could be really cool to try something similar in your own home. It doesn’t have to be the kitchen necessarily.{found on reico}.

Hallway aquarium

Office aquarium

Continuing on the same note, let’s check out a few more ways in which aquariums can become part of different areas of our homes. This one for example is integrated into the wall of a hallway can be admired from all sides. It penetrates the wall adjacent to the bathroom and it acts as an underwater window.{found on belcrestbuilders}.

Fireplace surround

Office aquarium

Of all the possible materials to use for a fireplace surround, glass is one of the most unconventional and intriguing ones, especially when there’s an amazing aquarium behind it. This looks like a very interesting way to combine two very different and contrasting elements that are individually interesting and eye-catching and creating something even more interesting than the two of them separate.{found on dezigninspirations}.

Dining room divider

Office aquarium

This is another beautiful example of how an aquarium can be incorporated into a room divider and can become a focal point for not just one space but two as it can be admired from either side. This time we’re looking at a large built-in aquarium which adorns a modern dining room with beige walls and dark wood flooring.{found on duetdesigngroup}.

Side by side

Office aquarium

Once again we’re looking at two contrasting elements, a fireplace and an aquarium, fire and water. Although they’re kept separate, they also complement each other and interact with one another in a subtle way. Both are built into this stone wall and have similar proportions which already draws attention to the symmetry of the design.{found on oceansaquarium}.

Aquarium bar

Office aquarium

The way in which the aquarium is incorporated into the interior design of this contemporary living room is very interesting. As you can see, the aquarium sits on top of a wooden base and is in fact part of a bar. It’s both a decoration and a divider, although it lets light travel through and is not meant to block the view to the other side.{found on okeanosgroup}.

Underneath the stairs

Office aquarium

The space under or next to a staircase is not always used for something. When it is, it’s mostly as a way to add storage to the entryway. However, it can potentially be used as a display area for something beautiful like an aquarium. This is such a beautiful and elegant custom aquarium and it only takes up a section of this space.{found on oceansaquarium}.

Headboard aquarium.

Office aquarium

Aquariums are very peaceful and relaxing. Looking at the fish swim around and just watching them enjoying their environment is soothing and very relaxing and this makes this particular aquarium design so much more beautiful and functional. It’s a headboard that contains 650 gallons of water and that will make your dreams very peaceful.{found on thefancy}.

Moody Aquarium Sink.

Office aquarium

Another interesting design is this sink. It’s a combination of a regular sink and an aquarium. It’s called the Moody Aquarium Sink and it’s a wash basin that doubles as a lighted fish aquarium. It’s a very interesting idea but besides the beautiful design meant to be pleasant to the eyes, the fish could probably find several things that are wrong with this piece.{found on site}.


Office aquarium

Here’s another very interesting idea. It’s a simple Mason jar that was attached to a wall shelf. It seems to also double as a vase, although I doubt it’s safe for the fish that’s swimming inside that tiny aquarium. As a decoration, it’s very interesting and unusual. However, it would probably be better if it had only plants and not actual living fish.


Office aquarium

Many modern and contemporary coffee tables come with transparent glass tops. That’s because they usually have eye-catching bases that have to be admired from all angles. It’s also the case of this particular coffee table which has an aquarium as a base. It’s beautifully decorated and landscaped and it would be a wonderful attraction in any living room.{found on site}.

Desk aquarium.

Office aquarium

A similar concept inspired these pieces of furniture as well. Here’s a series of desks and tables that have built-in aquariums. They are very interesting and they can be a wonderful solution for small home offices where there’s just enough space for a fish tank. You can have the aquarium built into the desk, table or console.{found on site}.


Office aquarium

I a way, watching the cute little fish swim around in their aquarium is like watching TV. It’s this analogy that was at the base of this creation. It’s a fish tank placed inside the frame of a vintage TV. For a moment you have the impression that you’re actually watching TV only to discover later that it’s an actual aquarium inside.{found on aquahobby}.


Office aquarium
Office aquarium
Office aquarium
Office aquarium
Office aquarium

Of all the unusual aquarium designs we have found for this article, this would have to be the craziest one. It’s a pipeline fish tank. You can actually see the fish swimming in the pipes. The design is very creative. The fish can move from one aquarium to another and you can watch them do that while relaxing in your chair.{found on thecontaminated}.

Telephone booth aquarium.

Office aquarium
Office aquarium
Office aquarium
Office aquarium

This unusual aquarium is part of a project developed in France. Benoit Deseille and Benedetto Bufalino were the ones that transformed several regular telephone booths into aquariums for the Lon Light Festival in France. It was a very interesting way of repurposing the old phone booths and of giving them a whole new function.

Another telephone booth.

Office aquarium

A similar project was developed in Osaka where the old telephone booths were transformed into giant goldfish aquariums. This way the phone booths got reused instead of just sitting there being useless. The initiative was very interesting and the project was very creative. Hopefully there will be more ideas like this one and not just in Japan.{found on treehugger}.

Bathtub aquarium.

Office aquarium

When a person says they want to swim with the fishes, this is usually a bad news. However, there is also another way of looking at things. This is a bathtub with a built-in aquarium, perfect for nature lovers. It’s called the Moody Acquario and it has a simple and contemporary design. The tub is made of tempered glass and wood.{found on bornrich}.

2 in one.

Office aquarium

When you think of decorations for the house, two things may come to your mind. One of them is probably a plant since they are very common in most homes. The other is an aquarium. So how about you get to combine those into one beautiful piece? This is both a planter and a fish tank. The plant sits in the pot on top while the fish swims in the tank on the bottom. It’s a very nice duo.{found on yankodeisgn}.

Light bulb.

Office aquarium

Here’s another very interesting and very unexpected aquarium design. It’s a light bulb turned into a fish tank. As you can see, the light bulb has been emptied and it has decorative tiny braches sticking down. It is partially filled with water and tiny fish swim inside. Although it’s a very interesting idea, I wonder how pleasant it is for the fish and how you get to feed them.

Aquarium divider.

Office aquarium

When you’re working in an office with tiny workspaces and when you’re surrounded by nothing but concrete walls and artificial lights, even the slightest element that doesn’t fall into the same category would be like a breath of fresh air. This office features a very nice balance between natural and artificial elements. The giant fish tank separates the work spaces and provides the workers with something and relaxing to look at.